The agrobody platform
The technology platform is designed to generate Agrobodies® against selected targets to create highly specific biological agents. An Agrobody® is a small 15 kDa protein that binds with high specificity and affinity to its target.
Camelid species like camels, alpacas, and llamas have, in addition to conventional antibodies, heavy chain antibodies that lack light chains and are composed of homodimers of two heavy chains only (Hamers-Casterman et al., 1993, Nature 363: 446-8).
These heavy chains are composed of three domains, two constant domains and a single antigen binding domain, called VHH or Agrobody®.
Agrobodies® are functional at high temperatures or in mild concentrations of detergent and have the capacity to functionally refold after thermal, chemical, or pressure denaturation. Agrobodies® are encoded by single genes, can be easily cloned, possess good solubility and can be efficiently produced in micro-organisms.
These qualities, the ease of generating Agrobodies® with desired affinity and specificity, and their low cost of manufacture make them preferred biological agents for an effective, safe and sustainable crop protection. Recombinant antibody engineering using immune and non-immune repertoires is used to generate Agrobodies® to diverse targets.
The Agrobody® platform allows for a rapid and efficient selection of Agrobodies® that bind to complex targets such as micro-organisms, homogenized leaves, seeds, insects or to purified, single molecules.
Agrobodies as novel biological control agents
For the fungal disease control program, llamas were immunized with glucosylceramide, a component present in the cell membrane of nearly all fungi. Agrobodies® binding with high affinity to glucosylceramide were selected and show antifungal activity against a wide range of key plant pathogenic fungi.
Plants treated with antifungal Agrobodies® are protected from infections by fungi.
Antifungal Agrobodies® are now being developed as biofungicides for various applications.
Agrobodies for enhanced formulations
Agrobodies® can also be used in formulations to improve retention and targeting of crop protection products to the site of action, for reduced application dosage and for extended performance with reduced application frequencies.
Targeted delivery and improved retention of Agrobody®-based crop protection products provides thereby for increased performance, sustainability and convenience of crop protection products.
Agrobodies® are protected as composition of matter by an extensive portfolio of granted patents and a growing number of pending patent families are covering diverse applications of Agrobodies® in crop protection.